USC football is at a crossroads.
The team is coming off an embarrassing loss at home to Washington State, and the program is coming off a disappointing finish to the 2013 recruiting cycle, plus 2014 recruiting is not going as well as it has in the past.
For the Trojans to turnaround their recruiting, they need to re-establish the fence around their state. California has several elite recruits in the 2014 class who USC must not allow to slip away from their clutches.
An athlete from a traditional USC pipeline could choose another school, while a cornerback who attends a school the Trojans have recently gotten three great receiver prospects from has other schools on his mind. Also, a mauling guard could opt for an SEC team.
With the mood of the program being somber and negative, the Trojans will have to first make sure they keep their all-Golden State recruiting class intact.
Lane Kiffin is on the hot seat, the fans are calling for a coaching change and the team can't decide if there was or wasn't a players-only meeting last week. Recruits have surely taken notice of what's going on with USC, and its commitments may jump ship.
With the entire 2014 class being made up of California prospects, the Trojans need to make sure they keep those players committed.
A star linebacker from Los Angeles, Dwight Williams probably is not going to USC. The 6'1", 205-pounder appears to have more interest in schools such as Florida, Michigan and Miami, among several others, per 247Sports.
He is the kind of player that USC can not afford to lose. Williams is a local recruit and has great athleticism. Junipero Serra High School has a good relationship with USC, as well.
If/when Williams signs with another school, at some point the Trojans will regret it.
With tight ends Randall Telfer and Xavier Grimble soon to be in the NFL, USC needs more reinforcements in the offensive seams.
Bryce Dixon, a 4-star tight end from Ventura, has the speed and hands to make an impact in the Trojans' offense. Dixon, who is 6'4" and 220 pounds, can release quickly off the line, shoot upfield past linebackers and quickly dart away at junction points to separate from coverage.
Dixon has outstanding ball skills, can catch in crowds and can be dangerous after the catch. UCLA is the main competition for USC, says 247Sports.
A 4-star prospect, Michiah Quick could play receiver, running back or defensive back in college. He is from Fresno, attends Central East High School and makes many dazzling plays.
Quick, who is 6'0" and 170 pounds, has great speed and quickness. He is at his best when he has the ball in his hands with space. Quick transfers upfield quickly after the catch, can dodge defenders with ease and plays with confidence.
Based on how ugly the Trojans' offense has looked the past two games, it could use a playmaker like Quick.
At 6'4" and 370 pounds, Damien Mama has 5-star size and strength. He blocks for St. John Bosco in Bellflower, which is one of the top programs in southern California.
Mama has spent a great deal of time at tackle, but will kick inside to guard in college. He has above-average quickness at the snap, but his ability to play like an elephant at the point of attack is rare.
Mama can roll his hips through contact, overpower his opponent and powerfully sustain his block to clear holes for running backs. He'll fight a defensive lineman in short areas to protect the passer, but his run-blocking skills are what separates him from other offensive linemen.
Perhaps the best athlete in the country, Adoree' Jackson is a 5-star cornerback who plays for Serra High School in Los Angeles. He is a California guy, but Jackson originally hails from Illinois.
At 5'9.5" and 182 pounds, Jackson plays bigger than his size would indicate. He has the strength to press receivers, the hips to mirror and transition in off-man coverage and the speed to carry receivers deep downfield.
Jackson has schools such as Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, Illinois, UCLA and LSU on his mind, according to 247Sports. USC will have to play better on the field and recruit him extremely hard to get his signature on a National Letter of Intent.
John Smith is the most important in-state prospect the Trojans can't let slip away because he is a 5-star talent who attends Long Beach Poly, which is traditionally a USC pipeline.
Smith, who is 6'1" and 200 pounds, could have an NFL future as a receiver or safety. He has outstanding agility, possesses a great burst of speed and displays loose hips. Smith has solid ball skills, can be explosive with his movements and looks to have good strength.
He's a clear-cut must-get player for USC, but schools such as Alabama, Notre Dame, UCLA, Arizona, Cal, Michigan, Ole Miss and Ohio State are on the radar, says 247Sports.
Several of the top in-state prospects USC can't let slip away can be found on the 2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map.
This is a mobile-ready tool that is designed to be an excellent resource for recruiting fans. Make sure to stay with Bleacher Report through its outstanding coverage of the 2014 recruiting cycle!